Obama Passed His Test, Now Republicans Face Ours

December 2nd, 2009 at 8:48 am David Frum | 286 Comments |

| Print

Reviews of the president’s speech vary from Republican tepid to Democratic anxious.

I disagree.

President Obama’s speech at West Point was not eloquent. Good. What’s needed now are not oratorical flights, but clear plans that give assurance of success. The president presented the details of both plans and purpose, mission and strategy.

In a blogpost last night, I criticized the president for setting a time limit. In the morning, I realized that I made the mistake against which I always warn others: Never listen to an Obama speech until after you have read it first. The man never quite says what you think you just heard. He did not say that the troops would come home after 18 months. He said

After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home.

BEGIN to come home. They will COMPLETE their return home, presumably, either when the job is done – or the war is deemed futile. That decision will be made later.

But here’s a decision that must be made now and renewed continually:

Having urged the president to honor his commitment to the Afghan war, we Republicans must honor our commitment to support him as he fights it. Given the public unenthusiasm for the conflict, there will be political temptations to “go rogue” on the president, if not now, then in the summer of 2010. That will be our test, for us to pass as the president has passed his. I know many Republicans and conservatives will say: “Hey – the Democrats did not give President Bush support when he most needed it.” Correct. They didn’t. And the country suffered for it. The right way to react to that dereliction of duty is not by emulating it, but by repudiating it. “For it before I was against it” has deservedly become an epithet for shameful wavering. Let’s not inflict it upon ourselves.

Politics would not be politics if Republicans did not exact some price for their support. For sure Republican leaders are entitled to close consultation on war policy and the larger national security strategy – and to more attention and respect generally than they have received from this administration to date, and not only Senate leaders, but House leaders too.

At the same time, demanding an extortionate price for support is tantamount to withdrawing support. The war is the war, healthcare is healthcare. Republicans should not take the first policy hostage to gain points on the second. We have to ensure that the political vulnerabilities exposed by this intensified Afghan commitment are protected, not exploited. We’ve said: All in, or all out. The president has gone all in. So now must we – and for the duration.

Recent Posts by David Frum



286 Comments so far ↓

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    Balcone @ 248,

    Generally, I share your low opinion of Bush, but I think it was possible that he thought (or more likely was convinced by Rumsfeld) that both Iraq and Afghanistan could be won with very little military effort. I belive that, in the process of persuading him of this, Rumsfeld and others probably told him of the Soviet Union’s experience in Afghanistan. I do believe Bush entered office with a disdain for the concept of nation-building. Thus, when Rumsfeld told him of the failed Soviet endeavor, that example resonated with Bush and he wanted to make sure he avoided that.

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    Sinz @ 249,

    Your 4 points are all valid, but they don’t seem to undermine the general proposition that if a failed state, wherever it exists, needs to be made stable in order to prevent an AQ safe haven, America will go there, sacrifice as many American lives as necessary, spend whatever it takes and stay indefinitely in order to achieve this. I do not believe the amount of harm AQ can cause the U.S. is great enough to justify this cost.

    More importantly, the country simply does not have the money to do this. We will go broke and lose our power, which is AQ’s true goal. The attached link is long, but you will probably find it very interesting.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200409/cullison

  • balconesfault

    Spartacus: Generally, I share your low opinion of Bush,

    Note that this is not necessarily a low opinion of Bush whole cloth.

    It is a low opinion of Bush as President of the United States, particularly over this last decade.

    History will show us that there are times when an unwavering faith in whatever one believes can lead to successes that seem miraculous … and that doubt is only a pathway to failure.

    The problem is that Bush took over an America that was in pretty freaking awesome shape in 2001. And even after 9/11, we didn’t need the huge gamble in the Middle East that Bush believed we would win in order to achieve the security levels we have today.

    If his gamble paid off, Republicans would be clamoring to have his face carved on Rushmore. And that was what Bush longed for … it’s likely the reason he ran multiple companies into the ground during his business career, his absolute belief in what he thought would happen transforming into certitude, and his ability to convince himself that the long shot would pay off.

  • Lavaux

    232 WillyP // Dec 3, 2009 at 10:27 am

    You’re right about otto. He doesn’t see the world as it really is but as he would like it to be, and he’ll never be able to do otherwise because his vision of the world satisfies some deep psychic need.

    I was a lefty until I started paying taxes for real. My first paycheck stub revealed that Uncle Sam and Olympia had taken a third of my income right off the top. I began looking around at the world and noticed it hadn’t gotten even one smidgen better even though I was now paying a third of my income to make it better. What gives?, I thought.

    That got me to thinking about social problems. What is a social problem – when two or more people have the same problem? If that’s the case, then there will never be an end to social problems because there’s no end of trouble in this life but one, death. And if the only way government can solve social problems is to throw money at them, then there’s truly no other limit to the amount of money government can throw at social problems except the amount of money it can tax, borrow or print. Maybe the third the government was taking from me was being largely wasted on Quixotic nonsense, I thought, but at least it’s not two thirds so perhaps I’ll just let it slide and go along to get along.

    Then I moved to Sweden. There the government took two thirds of my income, which wasn’t stellar to begin with. Sure, health care and day care didn’t cost much, but forget about getting ahead or putting any money away or ever achieving financial independence. The more you make, the more they take. The polity and society are set up like a Whack-A-Mole game: If your head ever pops up above the mean level, they’ll whack it back down for you. Most Americans, including me, would find this kind of thing most dispiriting.

    Strangely, there were even more social problems in Sweden than in America despite what the Swedish government was telling anyone not Swedish. In the meantime, I worked on some projects with the Government Offices and the Tax Authorities and learned first-hand from them how they cook the national books according to standards set by the Social Democrats in the Riksdag who were far more interested in looking good than procuring useful data.

    No longer could I ignore reality or go along to get along. The welfare state is not a good exchange for liberty. It sucks the hope and ambition out of people and mows down anyone who tries to grow above the prescribed level, and it doesn’t put an end to social problems. It’s based on lies, cooked books and ruthless force, and heaven help the guy who says so to the wrong crowd. In view of all of this, I became a hard core classical liberal.

    Otto is the kind of guy who can live in Sweden and shut his eyes to everything that gives the lie to his beliefs. I’m not. What good is the faculty of reason to one who continuously lies to himself?

    He’s like the global warming fraud deniers. We can show them that the most prominent climate scientists advancing global warming massaged their raw data to make it fit their theory, then destroyed the raw data to cover their tracks, then conspired to shut out and shout down all dissenting or skeptical scientific papers and opinions, then further conspired to cover their tracks by violating or ignoring public disclosure laws, all the while lying to the news media and the political classes. We can show them all of this, and they’ll shrug and say, “So what?” “Global warming is happening because it should be happening; man is destroying the planet and must be stopped.” The same would apply to the Recovery Act, unemployment, ACORN, the nutty Czars, etc.

    Re the scenario that may develop, I think both have a good chance at occurring. I won’t put any fiscal or monetary policy mistake beyond this president and this Congress. They are just like otto.

  • WillyP

    lavaux,
    yes, governments invent problems as an excuse to collect more money. it’s one of the surest truisms in political history.

    otto, well i don’t quite know what his deal is. he seems well educated and articulate, yet deeply torn. on one hand, he is a consummate liberal in thought and attitude. on the other hand, he spends what appears to be his entire day on a (purportedly) conservative website. he is a deeply dedicated keynesian, and yet chooses the republican odd man out – bruce bartlett – to make his case, and not, say, krugman. he is derisive and condescending, yet does not feel the need to fully reconcile his positions to valid criticism.

    this is unseemly, and i’m sure i’ll immediately regret posting this, but i would hazard that the serviceman in him is at war with the cambridgian. how else do you explain the liberal who looks for conservative approval?

  • balconesfault

    WillyP: this is unseemly, and i’m sure i’ll immediately regret posting this, but i would hazard that the serviceman in him is at war with the cambridgian. how else do you explain the liberal who looks for conservative approval?

    Much simpler … Otto (and other liberals or moderates who visit this site) aren’t seeing approval – but enjoying a clash of ideas that doesn’t take place when you only spend your time on more monopolar forums. Often this gives you the ability to refine and reframe your own beliefs as you respond to criticisms from others, particularly those you respect … depending on your mindset, it can even change your beliefs on the edges as you are exposed to arguments or data you wouldn’t normally come across and reconcile them with what you knew or thought you knew.

    I seriously doubt that anyone will have an epiphany and change stripes from this interaction – I think it takes bigger movements in the real world to achieve that. But conducted with respect and honesty, these dialogues can be intellectually challenging and fulfilling.

  • WillyP

    balcones, 3 comments:
    1) does not explain his affinity for bruce bartlett
    2) mental stimulation is difficult when you refuse to take your mask of condescension
    3) you never responded to my earlier post directed at your criticism of a free market (243)

    cheers

    ok, 4) i do regret posting that

  • ottovbvs

    Lavaux // Dec 3, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    232 WillyP // Dec 3, 2009 at 10:27 am

    You’re right about otto. He doesn’t see the world as it really is but as he would like it to be

    ……..perhaps that’s why I spent 40 years in business and ended up running a company with nearly 4000 people in it

    “I think both have a good chance at occurring. I won’t put any fiscal or monetary policy mistake beyond this president and this Congress.”

    ……it would take rather a lot of talent to repeat the series of mistakes made by the previous conservative Republican admin that resulted in the near collapse of the US financial system and the worst recession since the war……you might also want to take a look at who has presided over the largest increases in public debt since the war…..Reagan and Bush 2

  • ottovbvs

    sinz54 // Dec 3, 2009 at 9:36 am

    “You seem to be unable to make up your mind
    whether to give Obama’s plan a decent chance (at least a year) to work,
    or whether to write it off now as doomed to failure.”

    ……..I have no problem making up my mind….it’s doomed to failure……the only strategy with the remotest possibility of success is to spend trillions to turn Afghanistan into a colony(I attached a link above to some musings by Sullivan which exactly capture my thinking)……you really need to develop a bit of nuance Sinz to be able to tell the difference between what my personal views are and my interpretation of what the president is trying to achieve both militarily and politically

  • ottovbvs

    WillyP // Dec 3, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    “this is unseemly, and i’m sure i’ll immediately regret posting this, but i would hazard that the serviceman in him is at war with the cambridgian. how else do you explain the liberal who looks for conservative approval?”

    …….not just econo-babble but psycho-babble too

  • balconesfault

    WillyP: balcones, 3 comments:
    1) does not explain his affinity for bruce bartlett

    That’s easy. Krugman you’d dismiss out of hand, so Otto is intelligent enough to realize that there’s no value in bringing him to the table. Bartlett has a chance of persuading people here, since he has his conservative bona fides, and thus his critiques of the Republican Party can’t be dismissed as “trolling”, as some here so obsessively label any challenging ideas.

    2) mental stimulation is difficult when you refuse to take your mask of condescension

    take off? I think what you consider a “mask of condescension”, I consider an “elevation of the dialogue”. Clearly, I think my ideas to be better formed than yours, just as you consider yours to be better formed than mine. I consider it condescending for someone to not respond to a question of mine, but just to say “go read a book”. We all have our flaws, I guess.

    you never responded to my earlier post directed at your criticism of a free market (243)

    I didn’t really accept the way you put the question – but since you asked again:

    I would ask you where wealth was more concentrated – in the Soviet Union with a virtually unlimited government and vast bureaus for every sort of social service, or the United States; in America in the 1800s with no peerage system, or Great Britain with a history of aristocracy; in classical Athens in which only 10% of the population were fully legal citizens, or nearly capitalist classical Rome; in North America or South America since their European discovery? It is not sloppy thinking that originally defined monopoly as arising from government privilege.

    Wealth, being possession of material good that one can own independent of state fiat, and pass to one’s decendents, was virtually non-existent in the Soviet Union. Certainly there was unequal distribution of privilege, since the Soviets were as corrupt in how they practiced communism as they now are in how they practice capitalism (and I assume that they were all corrupt under the Czars). It seems to be a society that naturally gravitates towards corruption. But anyway, the US certainly has a much greater concentration of wealth in the hands of the few individuals than the Soviet Union, although you can basically say that in the Soviet Union all wealth was concentrated in the hands of the government. Access to that wealth was regulated by a few, although who the few were was not determined by birth.

    I’m not sure what time period in the history of Great Britain you are referring to in your comparison with America in the 1800s, so that is very difficult to respond to. For example, in 1873 80% of the land in Great Britain was owned by 7000 people, most of the titled. In the 1970′s land ownership by the aristocracy was down to 32%.

    I can’t comment on Athens and Rome, being much more versed with their literature than their economics.

    Comparing North and South America has flaws, because to certain extents the United States played no small role in helping keep wealth concentrated in the hands of the few in South America. That said, I see the large landed aristocracy of South America in large part to be the natural result of historical governments who saw their primary role as being the protection of the wealth of the few.

  • ottovbvs

    balconesfault // Dec 3, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    “That’s easy. Krugman you’d dismiss out of hand,”

    …….And there’s also the fact I’m uncomfortable with aspects of Krugman……..his basic economic philosophy is sound (Bernanke hired him at Princeton and he does have a Nobel…….Willy is still waiting for his) but he’s a bit inclined to overdo it as for example when he was demanding the govt nationalise the banks around the start of the year……..it wasn’t necessary and that has been proved by subsequent events (eg. we now have BoA and most of the other banks now paying off their loan in their entirety)…..his other hobby horse is that the stimulus should have been bigger and while I agree with him to a limited degree (maybe another 250 billion for infrastructure) it wasn’t passable and I think Obama/Summers/Geithner/Romer etc put together the best and most effective parcel of programs in the circumstances…..not perfect but it’s working and will have the economy in full recovery mode by the summer of next year but Krugman goes on endlessly about it…..he’s simply wrong again…..I like Bartlett for the reasons you enumerate plus the fact he explains things in layman’s terms and backs up his comments with data

    ……..As for Willy and Laveaux it’s hard to know what to make of them……raider/mi-goper etc are not hard to fathom…..they are not unlike those intourist guides one used meet in the old Soviet Union (programmed to rant nonsense at various decibel levels)……..Willy and Laveaux on the other hand are real flat earthers who actually remind me of CA hippies from the sixties with their rather strange obsessions and narcissism (sorry some psychobabble)

  • WillyP

    frankly i don’t mind the condescension so much as the ignorance. one cannot legitimately claim to like politics and not enjoy the art of put downs.

    normally i don’t just tell people to “read a book.” i must be cranky.

    the reason i recommended that book (it’s short) is because it cuts to the essence of the problem. without profit and loss statements, facilitated by accounting, there is no meaningful way of evaluating trade-offs. thus, although a socialistic society can identify areas that are clearly lacking, i.e. require more resources, they never know where to curb current resource consumption. accounting is a tacit admission of the problem of scarcity. without profit and loss statements, you could identify that A is lacking, but not know whether it is more less detrimental to sacrifice B or C.

    the essential feature of bureaucratic management is its adherence to rules. rule based operations have their place; as mises points out, you would not want a police force operating according to profit and loss (some would disagree, but as a subscriber to the ideal of the rule of law, i do not). rigidity is fine for policing, but impotent for creating a dynamic and progressive society that responds accurately to the needs and wants to society. this is why the soviet union (and all other communist countries) failed, and possibly also why it was a severe police state. that mises predicted the failure of socialism back in 1920, and prophesied how its maladies would emerge in the real world, strictly byway of his own mental cognition (that is, not through empirical “evidence”) should provide enough impetus to pick up one his books.

    men are corrupt as surely as men are good. the only insurance against corruption is limiting power. markets limit power because each dollar serves as a vote. governmental power, on the other hand, tends to grow; not only that, but it tends to grow MORE rapidly the more it fails! observe the new deal – hoover’s policies of interventionism failed, FDR doubled down when elected, only to tripled down later. by the time the united states had entered the war, we were already a managed economy. and unlike market enforcement, which amounts to purchasing decisions and abstentions, political power is enforced through physical coercion.

    as for 80% of the land being owned by the ~7,000 ennobled, i think that proves my point quite well. thank you for the statistic.

    otto, what business were you in? not the name, the industry. just curious… really.

  • balconesfault

    otto: eg. we now have BoA and most of the other banks now paying off their loan in their entirety

    On the other hand, from what I’ve been hearing the banks have been extremely tight about supplying credit to the marketplace.

    Did Bernanke hire him at Princeton, or Blinder? Of course, I’m biased about Blinder, since I had him for Econ 101.

    It’s a close call on Krugman versus Obama on the size of the stimulus. I agree that Obama went for what he could get through Congress … and the way it’s structured it will probably guarantee him re-election in 2012 barring another 9/11 (or 100 Hasans). Krugman’s advice, on the other hand, should have been embraced by the Dems in Congress who will have to run for re-election in 2010, since they’re the ones who will bear the brunt if your timing on the recovery is off by 6 months or so.

    And note that there are some sizable players in the US economy who might consider diminished Democratic Congressional power to be a reasonable tradeoff for a few month delay in the recovery.

  • ottovbvs

    balconesfault // Dec 3, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    “On the other hand, from what I’ve been hearing the banks have been extremely tight about supplying credit to the marketplace.”

    …….Two of my kids both work in the financial industry…….they say there is no shortage of credit the problem is finding people, who want to borrow (of course the absurdly generous loan terms have disappeared as they should)…..and this reflects what my own local bank manager tells me……he’s looking for customers to borrow

    ……Bernanke was head of the economics dept at Princeton and hired Krugman around 98 I believe

    “And note that there are some sizable players in the US economy who might consider diminished Democratic Congressional power to be a reasonable tradeoff for a few month delay in the recovery.”

    …….this sounds mildly paranoid……in my experience in business most people are intent on ploughing their own furrow and have a window not much longer than this years budget……a mass conspiracy to keep activity low to disadvantage Democrats is not something that’s going to have much appeal to anyone trying to make this years nut

  • balconesfault

    WillyP: men are corrupt as surely as men are good. the only insurance against corruption is limiting power. markets limit power because each dollar serves as a vote.

    Right. The flip side of this, as I pointed out before, is that wealth tends to concentrate in ways that disadvantage the great majority in society. You believe that governments gravitate towards socialism because they simply are an entity which naturally wants to take power. A counter-argument is that people ceed some measure of power to their government in order to protect themselves from the natural tendency of the pure free market to concentrate wealth in the hands of the few. It is not a power grab for voters to call for a government provided social net, any more than it’s a power grab by government for voters to call for a police force.

    In fact, let’s compare police force and social security.

    Both requre taxation to sustain.

    Both provide some level of security to citizens in the society.

    Neither removes all responsibility for security from the individual at the levels we fund them – I still need to lock my house and my car, and the 10K/year my mother gets in Social Security after my father passed away wouldn’t go very far.

    In your world, if I’m correct, citizens electing to have government provide security from crime is a reasonable function. Citizens electing to have government provide them security from abject poverty is a power grab by government. Am I correct?

  • ottovbvs

    263 WillyP // Dec 3, 2009 at 6:03 pm
    “otto, what business were you in? not the name, the industry. just curious… really.”

    …….25 years in the oil industry….ops, strategic planning and marketing…..then about 15 years in manufacturing(auto parts and construction equipment)

  • balconesfault

    otto: a mass conspiracy to keep activity low to disadvantage Democrats is not something that’s going to have much appeal to anyone trying to make this years nut

    agreed, and I’m not fond of such conspiracy theories. certainly for the majority of the players in the business community, it would make no sense, since in a competitive marketplace ceeding ground to a competitor for anything can have long-term ramifications.

    That said, there are some players in the marketplace who enjoy positions that aren’t under such pressures, and who can easily countenance delaying certain capital expenditures and hiring for a short period of time if they see the long term payback as being great enough.

    I guess I was particularly soured on the idea of corporations working for the common good when I heard that Enron was running their tax division as a profit center unto itself. Thus, if that profit center found that $1 in taxes could be saved by Enron doing something entirely unproductive with 95 cents, they were incentivized to piss away the 95 cents andn save paying the dollar to the government. That might have worked for Enron stockholders … but for the country as a whole it is a disaster. Particularly when that now incentivizes companies to have lobbyists beseeching Congress to allow them to get $1.05 in tax savings for pissing away the 95 cents next year (or maybe 97 cents, when you also factor in the cost of the influence).

    I will happily be proven wrong on this, and will readily admit that even failure of the economy to recover on the schedule you posit won’t be any kind of proof that my suspicions are founded. But I think Krugman had good sense that some more “goosing” was in order, particularly if one abhors the hardship that comes from a large unemployed component to the workforce, and the Conservadems who helped limit the size of the stimulus may have inadvertently helped speed their return to the private sector.

  • ottovbvs

    268 balconesfault // Dec 3, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    ” agreed, and I’m not fond of such conspiracy theories.”

    ……Most medium and large corporations are huge flywheels that have a life of their own…….I can’t even imagine fruiters like the Koch brothers sitting in a boardroom and deciding to postpone a chem plant just to piss off Obama……as I said I’d like to have seen some more in the infrastructure area but 375 billion most of it to be spent this year is a lot of dough……as a benchmark consider the highways bill passed every five years….it’s the biggest single infrastructure appropriation and runs around 500 billion spread over five years so notionally 100 million a year…….the stimulus is going spend around 300 billion in infrastructure in one year……it’s a hell of an injection ……..it’s one of the reasons cat stock has gone from 23 to around 59……the other reason btw is the cheap dollar which (pace Willy’s garment rending) is actually not as cheap as it was in the late spring of last year when you had to pay nearly 1.60 for a euro…..so I’m optimistic

  • ottovbvs

    ‘so notionally 100 million a year……’

    …..billion of course

  • MI-GOPer

    balconesfault-BarryS-MrFace-Moderate-Demo-RioRancho et al offers: “However, I fear that I will never be able to convince you that I have never used another name on this board.”

    That’s because I don’t buy into fantasy and the evidence of your actions and activity is transparent and compelling. Honestly, I don’t care what you might plead because the intellectual dishonesty and rank manipulation of your actions –trollish if there ever were any– make you unworthy of respect.

    Civil discourse for the purpose of examination requires all parties to operate in an honest, fair fashion. You and the tricks you employ here prove you aren’t sincere or earnest in this blog’s goals of rebuilding the conservative movement and returning the GOP to majority status. You’re here, like automaticBS’er, to irritate, inflame, incite, annoy, disrupt and distract those of us here with genuine purpose. It isn’t like there aren’t other forums at CNN or the Economist or NBC News or NPR blogs that you could spread your seed… no, you need to do it in a conservative forum dedicated to rebuilding the Party and that says T-R-O-L-L like nothing else, Mr Multiple Names.

  • balconesfault

    MI-GOPer … I suggest that you take it up with Mr. Frum, and demand that he disqualify all the names that he finds are coming from a common URL.

    If he refuses to do this, I would suggest that you leave, since obviously the board is not going to be managed in a way that pays proper fealties to your particular version of reality.

    For example, if people here constantly used vile, abusive language, or issued threats, I would be appalled at that conduct being tolerated, and would most certainly leave.

    So are you just too gutless to send Mr. Frum this message and give him such an ultimatum? I suspect that you are. Either that, or you just have no real confidence in the convictions you spout.

  • balconesfault

    Oops … obviously, I meant a common ISP.

    But the point still holds … clearly, if you are right and Frum refuses to do anything about eliminating me and all my supposed incarnations, then he is disrespecting yourself and all other conservatives here with his neglect. He is running a forum that is absolutely unworthy of your presence, and nothing good can come from your continued participation here.

    Frum doesn’t deserve you, MI-GOPer. Really. Red State does, FreeRepublic does, all of those sites that would have kicked me and my many supposed incarnations to the side long ago all deserve you. FrumForum does not. Save your time, lower your blood pressure, go where you are wanted and loved!

  • ottovbvs

    balconesfault // Dec 3, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    MI-GOPer …

    …..balconesfault……you carry sweet reason to a fault……this guy is clearly off his rocker…..best to ignore him apart from maybe the odd poke with a pointed stick if you want some mild amusement from his antics

  • sinz54

    SpartacusIsNotDead: I do not believe the amount of harm AQ can cause the U.S. is great enough to justify this cost.
    We have no way to bound the harm that al-Qaeda can cause us.

    First of all, the threat that thousands of Americans can be incinerated in hours has caused America to turn much of its public gatherings and public places into armed camps, with security measures everywhere. What liberals like you fail to understand is that a central tenet of human civilization is that of all the ways to die, premeditated murder is the most morally heinous. That goes back to the story of Cain and Abel. And hence preventing murder justifies spending enormous resources, more than preventing other types of deaths due to accident or disease.

    Secondly, the fact that al-Qaeda attacked America and got away with it has meant a real and lasting diminution of U.S. power and prestige and nfluence in the world. Allies and potential allies now see the U.S. as a nation that can’t win, even after it’s been attacked on its home soil. Why should they be allied with a loser?

    Thirdly, we have no way to know if 9-11 was the upper limit of what al-Qaeda is capable of. Prior to 9-11, your fellow liberals ridiculed the notion that America could ever suffer a major terrorist attack like that from Islamists. We found out the hard way that al-Qaeda can inflict more damage on us than had been inflicted since Pearl Harbor.

    Only a few years ago, the CIA broke up a plot to bomb TEN airliners inbound to America with liquid explosive bombs. If that plot had succeeded, the carnage might have exceeded 9-11.

    What potential terrorists now see is: a) you can attack America and get away with it; b) if you want publicity, you have to find a way to create a bigger terrorist attack than 9-11.

    That’s a very dangerous position for America to be in over the long haul.

  • ottovbvs

    sinz54 // Dec 4, 2009 at 10:40 am

    “We have no way to bound the harm that al-Qaeda can cause us.”

    ………We also have no way to bound the likely harm caused by a national Cholera outbreak, a 100 foot Atlantic tsunami, or an asteroid hitting the planet……..we face many threats and you have to produce a balanced strategy for dealing with them…….the chicken little “what if” so dear to your heart isn’t particularly constructive in that process

  • balconesfault

    Sinz: Secondly, the fact that al-Qaeda attacked America and got away with it has meant a real and lasting diminution of U.S. power and prestige and nfluence in the world. Allies and potential allies now see the U.S. as a nation that can’t win, even after it’s been attacked on its home soil. Why should they be allied with a loser?

    Funny enough, had we simply stopped after the invasion and initial stabilization of Afghanistan … Al Qaeda’s bases destroyed, their Taliban hosts driven from power, a huge multinational coalition including even Iran, participating with the US to force Bin Laden to resort to hiding in caves and sending out the occassional videotape … we would have been viewed as a victor. The operations would have cost far less than 100 billion, we’d have sent a message, and any nation would be on alert that harboring terrorists put their government and military on risk of destruction.

    What military leader in the world would allow his government to put his forces at such existential risks for the sake of some fundamentalist crazies?

    The Taliban did so probably because they didn’t even know the extent of the terror that Bin Laden was planning (it’s a pretty big leap from embassies and the USS Cole to New York and the Pentagon). There’s no evidence they were in on the planning. Hell – there’s decent evidence that even many of the 9/11 hijackers didn’t know that they were actually involved in a suicide mission, rather than a traditional hijacking.

    Nonetheless, after our invasion of Afghanistan, the message was sent clearly to everyone around the world … the US would not limit ourselves to little tactical strikes and surgical commando missions if our homeland was struck. And that message was victory.

    Miring ourselves in nation building is where we sowed the seeds of the US being a loser. We were too stupid to cash in when we were way ahead, instead deciding that success in the easier game presaged success in the more difficult one.

  • MI-GOPer

    AutomaticBS’er chimes into the echo chamber: “balconesfault……you carry sweet reason to a fault……this guy is clearly off his rocker…..best to ignore him apart from maybe the odd poke with a pointed stick if you want some mild amusement from his antics”.

    Not at all, Otto.

    You’ve just gotten tired of being out-thought, out-debated, and out-smarted.

    You and the highly dishonest balconesfault were allowed unchecked freedom here to Bash Bush and spread the Great Left Lies willy-nilly. Now that people are holding you accountable and you have no valid refute, you fall back to the ol’ Saul Alinsky rhetoric and playbook: “work to isolate your opponent”, “seek to discredit them by the use of belittling humor”, “find forced agreement with others to make the debate appear to support your position” and so forth.

    In the end, informed opinions like those advanced by my side win the day. Trollish dishonesty like yours and balconesfault ruins your credibility.

    You can still post. You can even try to use the echo chamber and make it look like the flow of conversation is going your way. Or, like balconesfault and his pals, you can even try multiple named postings to make the thread’s discussion appear to support your corrupted view.

    In the end, it doesn’t of course. You know it. The rest of us know it. And you’re reduced to snide, little petty comments that expose you for the irritant and annoyance you’ve tried to be throughout.

    At least balconsefault has admitted, like rbottoms, that he’s here to irritate and annoy –first and foremost. For both, it’s like sport. I think it bring drama to their otherwise pitful lives.

  • balconesfault

    Or, like balconesfault and his pals, you can even try multiple named postings to make the thread’s discussion appear to support your corrupted view.

    Really? You’re going to keep on this specious allegation?

    Are you too gutless to demand that Frum ban multiple postings from the same ISP?

    Or have you already done so, and been told that you’re delusional, and decided to continue the charade anyway?

    I suspect the latter is true, but await your answer.

  • ottovbvs

    MI-GOPer // Dec 4, 2009 at 11:17 am

    ” You’ve just gotten tired of being out-thought, out-debated, and out-smarted. ”

    …..in your dreams you deranged little man…….you’re the blog joke ……everyone site has one and you’re it

  • Lavaux

    258 ottovbvs // Dec 3, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    “……..perhaps that’s why I spent 40 years in business and ended up running a company with nearly 4000 people in it”

    So the 4000 people in the company you ran is a world? Let me guess: You ran Disneyland! Logic is not your strong suit, is it?

    Now to your second error.

    “……it would take rather a lot of talent to repeat the series of mistakes made by the previous conservative Republican admin that resulted in the near collapse of the US financial system and the worst recession since the war……you might also want to take a look at who has presided over the largest increases in public debt since the war…..Reagan and Bush 2”

    Who writes the laws, Congress or the president? Who wrote the CRA, and to which party did they belong? Who signed the CRA into law, and to which party did he belong? Who founded ACORN, and which party do they serve? Which president impeached Congress to jack up the regulations on Fannie May and Freddie Mac, and to which party did he belong? Which congressmen told this president to take a long walk off a short pier, and to which party did they belong?

    Please tell me you don’t really believe that Democrats are blameless in causing the financial crisis. If you do, then you really are completely detached from reality and not worth talking to.

    Take this with you when you go: Most Americans, including me, blame the federal government, both parties and the financial sector for the financial crisis. Pres. Bush retired almost a year ago. There’s plenty of blame to go around for the sorry state the economy is in, and heads must roll. Democrat heads are on the chopping block because they’re in charge and they’ve done little to create jobs while unemployment climbed over 10%. Let the axes swing, baby!

  • ottovbvs

    281 Lavaux // Dec 4, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    258 ottovbvs // Dec 3, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    “So the 4000 people in the company you ran is a world? Let me guess: You ran Disneyland! Logic is not your strong suit, is it?’

    …..the superficially dumb remark seems to be your speciality(Sweden has more social problems than the US ……or Sweden cooks the books when the US has been running two wars off the books for seven years!) …….the 4000 folks I’m talking about had to exist in the real world not Disneyworld

    “Who writes the laws,”

    ……The Republicans apart from a brief interlude in the senate had control of both houses of congress from 1994 to 2006 when most of the relevant legislation was written and from 2001 to 2008 they had control of the white house…..thus for at least six years when the crash was incubated and hatched they were in complete control of the executive and legislative machinery of the country…….trying to spread the blame around aint going to play in Peoria however you squirm around buddy…..any more than your predictions of a double dip recession

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    Sinz wrote: “What liberals like you fail to understand is that a central tenet of human civilization is that of all the ways to die, premeditated murder is the most morally heinous.”

    Really? And the you base this on the fact that you and I disagree on whether the country can afford to write a blank check (both in lives and money) in order to stabilize a backwater like Afghanistan?

    Tell me, what does it feel like to have a burst of stupid like that?

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    Sinz also wrote: “We have no way to bound the harm that al-Qaeda can cause us.”

    We have no way to bound the harm from any of the threats we face. So how do we pay any price to prevent all of these unbounded harms?

  • ottovbvs

    SpartacusIsNotDead // Dec 4, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    “Tell me, what does it feel like to have a burst of stupid like that?”

    …….How would he know?

  • sinz54

    balconesfault: Miring ourselves in nation building is where we sowed the seeds of the US being a loser.
    On that point, you and I are in total agreement.

    Bush’s theory was that exporting “democracy” (as measured by the number of elections, no matter how corrupt and ineffectual) at the point of a gun is going to deter further terrorism. I think we can now say that Bush’s theory has been refuted by actual evidence.

    Though I doubt that the Muslim world would have considered our action in Afghanistan to be a real “victory” as long as the chief plotters of 9-11, including Osama bin Laden, escaped. As I said, what they saw is that you can plot an attack that devastates whole square blocks of an American city and kills thousands of Americans–and then escape to plot more attacks another day. Still, they would have been impressed with the speed and effectiveness of the U.S. effort in Afghanistan, as you said.

    I can assure you that if some anti-Muslim terrorists blew up Mecca, the Muslims would pursue those terrorists to the ends of the earth, destroying anyone and anything that got in their way until those terrorists were destroyed.